JUNE 11, 2015 — SOLAS regulations on the mandatory carriage of ECDIS for all tankers of 3,000 gt or more come into force on July 1, 2015. Of the 8,750 plus tankers in the global fleet required to comply by their first survey following this date, 54% are now using ENCs (Electronic Nautical Charts) on ECDIS. However, says UKHO (United Kingdom Hydrographic Office), over 4,000 tankers that make up the remaining 46% of the fleet are not yet using an ENC service.
"The international tanker community has made significant progress towards ensuring that it is ready for the SOLAS regulations on ECDIS carriage that come into force in July," says Thomas Mellor, Head of OEM Technical Support and Digital Standards, UKHO. "However, we also recognize that a large proportion of the fleet, comprising over 4,000 tankers, is not yet using an ENC service and therefore not yet ready to comply with the mandatory carriage of ECDIS. Even allowing for exemptions and the grace period until their first survey after July 1, 2015, which could be up to 12 months later, this is a considerable undertaking and the ECDIS supply chain can expect to come under considerable pressure in the coming months.
"Tanker owners and operators that have not yet planned for the adoption of ECDIS should address this immediately in order to make the transition in a safe, timely manner and avoid the risks of non-compliance. From an operational, commercial and reputational perspective, the consequences of failing to comply with the ECDIS regulations – and therefore the SOLAS Convention – can be severe."
UKHO notes that the amendments to the SOLAS Convention requiring the mandatory carriage of ECDIS for ships engaged on international voyages were adopted in 2009. This put in place a rolling timetable of deadlines for different vessel sizes and classes, including the requirement for all existing tankers of 3,000 gt or more to be fitted with ECDIS not later than their first survey on or after 1 July 2015. However, ships that will be taken permanently out of service within two years of this implementation date may be exempted.
The ECDIS transition process consists of a number of stages that, says UKHO, go considerably further than the physical installation of ECDIS on-board. Tanker owners and operators must also manage the delivery of generic and type-specific ECDIS training for their crew, the necessary revisions to bridge policies and procedures, the requirement for class approval, and more.